1) Washing and caring for products made of natural wool

Caring for products made of natural wool requires some special attention to ensure their longevity and maintain their quality. Here are some general guidelines for washing and caring for wool products:

Spot clean when possible: If there are minor stains or spills on your wool item, try spot cleaning first. Blot the affected area gently with a clean, damp cloth or sponge.Avoid rubbing vigorously, as this can damage the fibers.

Handwashing: For most wool products, handwashing is the safest method. Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a small amount of gentle wool detergent. Submerge the item and gently agitate it with your hands, ensuring that the detergent is evenly distributed. Let it soak for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water, avoiding any wringing or twisting. Gently press out excess water.

Machine washing (if suitable): Some wool items may be machine washable. Use a wool or delicate cycle with cold water and a gentle wool detergent. Place the item in a mesh laundry bag to protect it from excessive agitation. Once the cycle is complete, remove promptly and reshape the item if necessary. Lay it flat to dry.

Drying: It's best to air dry wool items by laying them flat on a clean, dry towel or a drying rack. Avoid hanging wool garments, as they can stretch under their weight. Direct sunlight and heat sources like radiators should also be avoided, as they can cause shrinkage or damage.

Reshaping: To maintain the shape of your wool item, reshape it while it's still damp. Gently stretch or reshape it back to its original form and dimensions. This step is especially important for sweaters, socks, slippers and other knitted items.

Storage: When storing wool products, make sure they are clean and completely dry. Fold them neatly and store in a cool, dry place, preferably in a breathable storage bag or container. Cedar balls or lavender sachets can be added to deter moths or other pests.

Avoid excessive washing: Wool has natural self-cleaning properties, so it's generally not necessary to wash it frequently. Instead, consider spot cleaning or airing out your wool items to refresh them between washes.

Remember, these are general guidelines, and it's essential to follow any specific care instructions provided by the manufacturer. By properly caring for your wool products, you can enjoy their warmth, softness, and durability for a long time.

2) How and when are sheep sheared in the Ukrainian Carpathians?

In the Carpathian region, sheep shearing typically takes place once a year in the spring or early summer, usually between April and June. The exact timing can vary depending on factors such as weather conditions, the specific location within the Carpathians, and the flock owner's preferences.

Shearing is an important practice to ensure the health and well-being of the sheep. Here is a general overview of the process:

1. Preparation: Prior to shearing, the sheep are gathered and brought to a designated area. They may undergo a brief health check to identify any issues that need attention.

2. Shearing process: Experienced shearers use electric or manual shears to carefully remove the fleece from the sheep. The shearer positions the sheep in a specific manner to ensure safety and efficiency during the process. Skilled shearers work swiftly to minimize stress on the animals.

3. Handling the wool: Once the wool is removed, it is carefully rolled or folded to keep it intact and avoid tangling. The fleece is collected and stored for further processing, such as cleaning and sorting.

4. Post-shearing care: After shearing, the sheep may be examined for any minor cuts or injuries and provided with any necessary treatments or vaccinations. They are then released back into their grazing areas.

Sheep shearing in the Carpathians is often a community event, with local shearing experts or professional shearers coming together to assist the flock owners. It is an opportunity for farmers to exchange knowledge and skills while celebrating their shared traditions.

It's worth noting that the specific shearing practices can vary among different Carpathian regions and individual farmers. Factors such as the size of the flock, farming practices, and the intended use of the wool may influence variations in shearing techniques and timing.

3) Durability of things made of natural wool made by hand

Handmade items made of natural wool can be quite durable when properly cared for. The durability of these items depends on several factors, including the quality of the wool, the construction techniques used, and the care they receive over time. Here are some points to consider:

1. Quality of Wool: The quality of the wool used plays a significant role in the durability of handmade items. High-quality wool, such as merino wool or other long-staple wools, tends to be more resilient and less prone to pilling or wearing out.

2. Construction Techniques: The way a wool item is constructed can also affect its durability. Skillful craftsmanship, tight stitches, and proper reinforcement of seams or stress points contribute to the overall strength and longevity of the item.

3. Care and Maintenance: Proper care is crucial for maintaining the durability of wool items. Follow the care instructions provided by the maker or on the product label. Hand wash or dry clean as recommended, avoid excessive agitation, and use gentle detergents designed for wool. Avoid exposing wool items to high heat or direct sunlight, as they can cause shrinkage or damage.

4. Pilling: It's important to note that even with high-quality wool and proper care, some pilling (the formation of small balls of fiber on the surface) may occur over time. This is a natural characteristic of wool and is not indicative of poor durability. Pilling can be managed by gently removing the pills with a fabric shaver or by hand.

5. Usage: How an item is used also impacts its durability. Wool items designed for heavy use, such as blankets or outerwear, should withstand more wear and tear compared to delicate accessories or decorative pieces. Assess the intended use of the item and choose accordingly.

6. Repairs: In the event of minor damages or wear, handmade wool items can often be repaired. Skilled artisans or experienced crafters can mend small holes, reinforce weak spots, or replace damaged sections, extending the lifespan of the item.

Overall, with proper care, handmade items made of natural wool can be durable and last for many years. However, it's important to remember that wool is a natural fiber, and some signs of wear or aging may appear over time, adding character and a sense of uniqueness to the item.